As your children grow, and you and your former partner’s life circumstances change, it may be necessary to change your child support agreement. In New Mexico, either parent can petition the court for a modification of a previous child support order. Whether a request for changes is approved depends on a variety of factors.
At Matteucci Family Law, Attorney Bob Matteucci helps New Mexico families who need to modify their existing child support order find a path forward while meeting their children’s needs. Whether an increase or a decrease is desired, he strives to facilitate an agreement between the parents so all the judge has to do is rubber-stamp it.
If a disagreement over child support payments arises, Attorney Matteucci always attempts to resolve it amicably, without involving the courts. But he can and does litigate these cases when it is clear the needs of the children will not be met unless aggressive action is taken.
Whether you and your former partner agree that your current child support order should be updated, or you are butting heads over your current payments, Attorney Bob Matteucci is here for you.
When Can Child Support Be Changed in New Mexico?
Under New Mexico law, a child support order may be modified by the court if you, your former partner, or your child is dealing with a material and substantial change in circumstances. However, New Mexico courts are often reluctant to add child support cases to their docket because they can get messy. If the split was not amicable, or one party remains bitter about the amount of support they pay or receive, a simple request for a modification can quickly devolve into a shouting match.
Fortunately, such cases are the exception, not the rule. If you are like most parents, you understand that your child’s financial needs will change over time. You also know that significant changes to your or your former partner’s employment, income, marital status, or health may mean your current child support agreement is unworkable. When you and your former partner know changes are needed, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for them.
Examples of Material and Substantial Changes
New Mexico state courts will approve requested changes to a child support order if you, your former partner, or your child is dealing with a material and substantial change in circumstances. But what does this actually mean?
The first thing to understand is that the New Mexico courts don’t modify child support orders without good reason. This means any request for changes should be well-documented and supported by evidence.
Here are a few examples of situations where Attorney Bob Matteucci has successfully persuaded a court that a child support modification is appropriate:
- Loss of either parent’s income. Job loss, reduced hours, disability, and other factors can cause either parent’s income to drop. If the parent receiving child support experiences reduced income, the parent who pays child support may be ordered to pay more. On the other hand, if the paying parent starts making less money, that might be cause for a reduction in child support.
It is important to note that a parent cannot voluntarily quit their job, work fewer hours, or work for less pay than they can actually earn, and use that as a basis for a child support modification. A job loss or reduction in hours must be in good faith, and courts will expect there to be evidence that the parent asking for a change in child support has actually tried to earn more.
- Increases in income can also affect child support. If the parent who receives support goes back to work, begins earning more money, or has the opportunity to do so, the court may reduce child support.
- Changes in the child’s expenses. The child’s expenses may suddenly change due to sickness, injury, disability, educational needs, or other factors. Conversely, the financial needs of the child may have decreased since the last child support order, potentially justifying a decrease in support.
- Changes to a child’s routine. In New Mexico, when a child becomes old enough to attend school and one of the parents is a stay-at-home parent, child support will be recalculated assuming the former stay-at-home parent begins working full-time. Even if the stay-at-home parent continues to stay at home after the child is school age, in New Mexico, child support will be recalculated as if the parent is working full-time.
- Changes in the child’s living situation. New Mexico uses different formulas and worksheets to determine the initial child support amount, based on the child’s custody arrangement. A change in that arrangement can therefore affect the amount of child support it is fair to expect the paying parent to contribute towards the child’s care. For example, if a child who used to spend two days a week at the paying parent’s home is now living with them the majority of the time, an adjustment should be made.
These are just a few of the reasons Attorney Matteucci has seen New Mexico courts modify a previous child support order. But they are not the only reasons a modification can be requested. Your family’s unique lifestyle, financial situation, and living circumstances should dictate your child support arrangement.
If you think a change to your existing child support order is needed, Bob Matteucci is ready to listen to your concerns and advise you of all your options.
How Do I Modify Child Support in New Mexico?
Ideally, you and your former partner will agree that a change to your current child support agreement is desirable. When both parents are ready to request a change, Attorney Matteucci works with them to craft a proposal the courts can easily okay.
Using the formulas and worksheets provided by the state as a jumping-off point is usually a good first step. They factor in a child’s age, living arrangement, and each parent’s income to come up with a suggested child support payment. Attorney Matteucci assists his clients with these calculations.
He then helps his clients gather supporting documents that back up the figures in the worksheet, and help persuade the court that circumstances have changed since the previous order was put in place. This may include pay stubs showing reduced earnings, medical bills, or evidence of increased child care, insurance, or educational costs. You may also use witness testimony in court to support a requested modification.
When parents can come to an agreement on a modification, and there is evidence supporting it, courts will rarely refuse to approve it. Putting in the work upfront to negotiate an agreement outside of court, and document the need for it, is the fastest and best way to get a child support modification approved.
In the rare case where former partners are at odds with one another over a proposed change to child support payments, Attorney Matteucci is a strong advocate for his clients. He is not afraid to aggressively fight for the payment scheme that is in the best interest of his client’s children, because that is the least they deserve.
Contact A New Mexico Child Support Modification Lawyer Today!
When life necessitates some changes to your child support agreement, Matteucci Family Law is ready to serve you. Attorney Matteucci is ready to help you negotiate a new agreement the court will easily approve, but can also assist you if you need to fight for what is best for your child. Give Bob Matteucci a call today to get started.
Matteucci Family Law Firm helps families with child support modification across the state of New Mexico resolve their legal issues. Whether you live in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Lunas, or Rio Rancho, attorney Bob Matteucci is here to help you.